UPDATED: Olentangy Schools changing logos for Braves, Patriots, Pioneers
Student-athletes share their perspectives
CORRECTION: Olentangy High School's logo features a river hawk, not an eagle, as an earlier version of this story had noted.
Three of four Olentangy Schools’ high school logos and mascots are getting a makeover.
The district recently revealed new imaging for Olentangy, Liberty and Orange high schools, the final piece of a project to create or update nicknames, mascots and logos at all schools.
Berlin's logo isn't changing.
Although the school district is changing the logos for Olentangy, Liberty and Orange, the sports teams still will be known as the Braves, Patriots and Pioneers, which is consistent with the plan outlined several years ago when a strategic plan for the process was developed, district chief communications officer Krista Davis said.
“Establishing a brand identity is one of the goals outlined in the district’s strategic plan. It is more than a logo or image. It is about creating a brand identity and protecting the district and schools’ intellectual property,” school board member Kevin O’Brien said. “The largest audience for athletics is at the high school level, and this brand initiative will also create a modest revenue stream for the schools. I have been a proponent of a trademark program for the district for many years, and I am excited to see it come to fruition.”
The process included the removal of all Native American imagery, Davis said. Although “Braves” remains at Olentangy High School, all images have been changed to feature a river hawk instead of Native American references.
Despite objections to retaining the nickname from some in the community, Davis said, that was not a consideration “at this time.”
“Community members voice their concerns,” Davis said. “But our goal was to move forward within the parameters established for the project, which was to remove all trademark infringements and Native American imagery.”
Davis said having established branding at the high schools made this process a different challenge from creating new nicknames and logos for the elementary and middle schools, some of which had informal imagery and text that were formalized and unified over the past year.
“At the high school level, there is just more – more athletics, more extracurricular and academics, more staff and students,” Davis said. “That added a level of complexity.”
Davis said branding teams at each school contributed to the process by working with the district communications staff and Columbus-based Cult Marketing.
Consistency in style and design will reinforce the district’s “One Olentangy” ideal while allowing each school to present a unique identity important to its school community, she said.
“We talked about what makes each building, each school unique and what’s important to their identity and culture, to develop imagery that shows who they are,” Davis said.
The new branding will continue to be rolled out over the summer, with social-media posts from students and staff from each building describing how the new imagery supports their school identity.
Additionally, Davis said, not all uses of the current logos will be replaced immediately. For example, gym floors, turf and signs will be replaced when needed, she said.
“We said we would not get rid of things that are still good, in the interest of being fiscally responsible,” Davis said.
Student-athletes share their perspectives
Some of the schools' student-athletes shared their opinions on the new logos and what effect, if any, they might have.
Olentangy baseball player Austin Sizemore said he doesn't think changing the Braves logo affects much.
"I think that a lot of our school pride comes from the name the Braves," said Sizemore, who will be a senior. "The original logo wasn’t used much and wasn’t so much seen as a source of pride in our school anyway. I do think it’s nice that our new logo is a bird so, hopefully, we can keep the O with the feather on our baseball hats, which has kind of become our brand as a program."
"I really like the new logo for Liberty," said Camryn Thompson, who will be a junior at the school. "I think they did a really good job creating new ones but also making sure they kept the original idea of the old logo."
Thompson was a state qualifier in the high jump (the Patriots' only state qualifier in track).
Lauren Berend, who will be a senior at Orange, said she has warmed up to the new Pioneers logo and that it has even generated some ideas.
“It took me a little while to get used to it, but I’m liking it more and more," said Berend, who is on the school's volleyball and bowling teams. "I’ll be student-section leader this coming year, and it really lets us open up ideas for theme nights at football and basketball games. We have used things like ‘Country Night’ and other things in the past, but now we can use aliens themes or astronauts. It can really open things up to creativity.”
“It’s pretty cool and will be a good step moving forward," said Jake Barnhart, who will be a junior and is a goalie for the boys soccer team. "Changing from the Pioneer is a good look because astronauts are like modern-day Pioneers. If the Pioneer was offensive to some people, then it’s a good step forward, and it’s good to have a new face for our school.”
ThisWeek sports writers Scott Hennen, Dave Purpura and Jarrod Ulrey contributed to this story.